Maggie Rants [and Raves]

Monkey See, Monkey Still No Can Do

by Maggie Franklin | August 26, 2013

I was recently advised to watch some YouTube videos in order to gain motorcycling skills.

Yep. True story. Somehow, watching someone do something will magically make me able to do it as well.

By that logic, I should be ready to run the Baja 1000 by now.

The thing is, instructional videos — or even in-person observation — can be really helpful in learning a new skill. As long as you already have some understanding of what is being done. And even then — as in the case of my 20-foot diameter U-turns — knowing how it’s done doesn’t make you magically capable of doing it; it still takes practice. Lots of practice.

I’ll have to practice the U-turns just as a competitor has to practice the specific skills to create an award-winning set of pink-and-whites. It’s one thing to know how to do it, it’s another to actually do it.

Which is why I don’t understand why it’s so common for newbies to want to merely watch a more experienced tech do nails.

I used to do it. I’ve had plenty of novice techs stand behind me and watch me work. But until you have a working understanding of the basics, watching someone else won’t trigger any great “aha” moments. Learning a new skill comes from a combination of seeing and doing.

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